Around one third of the capacity of the country’s emergency public bunkers is fully operational, meaning 50,000 asylum seekers could be given temporary shelter, defence minister Ueli Maurer said.
“The situation would be chaotic, and not designed for several months,” he said during a meeting with military personnel in Canton Bern.
“We could offer a roof over their head and warm soup to tens of thousands of people,” he added.
Maurer said the cantons were in a better position than the federal government in terms of providing places in bunkers, and noted the army could only help out in terms of equipment and supplies.
Speaking about Switzerland’s position in the current refugee crisis, the defence minister said he hoped the country would not face a situation like that seen in Hungary and Austria where authorities have struggled with thousands of refugees making their way to Germany.
“We can’t, however, rule out the possibility that Switzerland could become a destination (for refugees) within days or hours,” he said.
Maurer added he was concerned about the huge number of refugees entering central Europe because there were Isis terrorists among them.
Switzerland said recently it was prepared to take in some 5,000 refugees in the next two years on the condition the Dublin system remains in place.
To date, the country has seen only a limited numbers of refugees.
September figures released by the Swiss Migration Office (SEM) show that a total of 3,899 asylum requests were placed in August, just three more than in July and hardly the influx experienced by other European countries.
Of the Swiss total, 1,610 requests came from Eritreans, 461 from Afghans, 401 from Syrians and 180 from Iraqis.